Yesterday, fall arrived officially, and with it, nice long walks or runs in cooler weather, cozying up with great books, and, of course, all things pumpkin. To usher in the new season, I spent many hours in the kitchen using almost every dish in my quest for a yummy pumpkin soup, rich in protein. Since I tend to be quite experimental in the kitchen, the results are never guaranteed, but I was thrilled at how this pumpkin soup with red lentils turned out. This might even replace my longtime favorite, chickpea lentil soup (which I’ll post another time). Next time I will double the amounts so I can freeze more of it.
On the health front, red lentils are a great source of protein, and pumpkin, lentils, and cashews are considered superfoods. As for packaged coconut milk, there’s far more back and forth, but I think it’s a fine in treaty moderation. The entire carton of coconut milk has 20 grams of fat, which isn’t bad spread over the entire amount of the soup. The cashews are, of course, high in fat, but you only need to drizzle a bit of the cashew cream onto your soup.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
- Small to medium pie pumpkin
- 11-ounce carton So Delicious Lite Culinary Coconut Milk (or equivalent amount/style)
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup dry red lentils
- 4 cups water for lentils
- 2 cups water for soup (or broth if you prefer)
- 4 T fresh ginger
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1 T nutmeg
- Dash of chili powder
- Cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. or so of olive oil
Maple Coconut Cashew Cream
- ½ cup cashews soaked for 2 hours to overnight
- A splash of water
- Splash of coconut milk from the coconut carton above
- 1 T maple syrup
Servings: About 8 cups
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You’ll need about 2 cups of pumpkin for the soup. My pumpkin was 3.5 pounds, which yielded the two cups, plus about a cup more to make pumpkin butter or to simply have on hand.
- Wash pumpkin thoroughly under running water; be sure to scrub well to get all dirt off from skin. Dry, cut off top, then cut pumpkin lengthwise. Scrape out seeds and pulp. You will have to work at this—those strings like to hang on—and set aside.
- Place cut sides down on shallow baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes, until soft but not too mushy. (Begin testing at 40 minutes, then use judgment as to how often from there.)
- For red lentils, pour four cups of water into pan, and put flame on high. Take lentils and spread out on flat wide plate or baking sheet to examine and sort, looking for any stones, dirt or damaged lentils. Rinse throughly in fine mesh strainer moving them around to make sure you’ve rinsed from all angles. Once rinsed, place lentils into the pan of water that’s been heating. Bring to boil, then lower flame and simmer gently will lid tilted, until lentils are soft but not mushy. Scoop off the foamy stuff that rises to the top (you’ll need to do that a few times). Start checking the lentils for doneness at 10 to 15 minutes, though the recommended time on the package is 20 to 35. If they get a bit too mushy, it’s no big deal, because you’ll be blending them into the soup.
- While pumpkin is baking and lentils are cooking, finely chop onion, then sauté on very low in enough olive oil to just smear the bottom of the pan. You can do this in a large soup pan that you will transfer the blended soup to in order to save using another dish. Stir onions at regular intervals to prevent from sticking. Onions will be done when they reach an almost caramelized consistency.
- While onions are cooking, wash and peel the ginger. Finely chop, then add to onions. If you would like a stronger, fresher ginger flavor, simply set aside. You can add the ginger during the blending process.
- Now separate pumpkin pulp from the seeds as best as you can easily, just using your hands. What you can’t separate easily, soak in water. After you’ve separated all the seeds from the pulp, dry them a bit, then lay flat on baking sheet. Salt them lightly.
- When pumpkin is ready, take it out of the oven, and allow it to cool for a bit. Leave oven on and place baking sheet with the seeds in there. Bake for 15 to 30 minutes, until crisp. Take them out every 5 minutes or so and stir them around so they don’t stick or burn.
- Add cashews to blender, splash with just a bit of water, then enough of the coconut milk to almost cover the cashews. Add the tablespoon of maple syrup. Blend thoroughly until the mixture has a cream-like smooth consistency. Pour into small dish or measuring cup (which makes the mixture easier to drizzle on soup). Pour out as much as you can, but don’t worry about cleaning it afterward. You’ll blend the soup in here and any residue will add to the taste of the soup.
- Back to the pumpkin: Scoop out two cups.
- To blender, add ginger, onions, and coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Then add pumpkin, lentils, some of the water, and your spices. Blend until a smooth puree, and taste at each stage so you don’t add too much water. If you’ve decided to bump up the spices (per the notes below), don’t add more than the baseline amount until you’ve got everything blended. It’s always easier to add more spice than take it away!
- Once blended, pour the amount of soup you want to eat now into the pan you cooked the onions in or a new one, and heat on low until desired temperature. Freeze or refrigerator the rest.
- Pour heated soup into bowls, drizzle with cashew cream, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Serve with small salad, and toasted sourdough bread topped with Earth Balance.
Notes and Modifications
- Halve the cinnamon and nutmeg measurements for a more subtle pumpkin-pie-spice flavor. Same for the ginger.
- Alternatively, for a more warming and stronger pumpkin-associated spice flavor, bump up the amount of the ginger and cinnamon, especially, but as mentioned do so only a bit at a time, continuing to taste.
- This is a savory soup. If you want a sweeter soup, add a bit of maple syrup to the soup. The cashew cream will sweeten the soup slightly when mixed in, but not much.
- The chili powder is a different flavor entirely and is only meant to add a subtle complexity. If that’s the flavor you wish to make stronger, hold back on the other spices.
- So Delicious promises their packaging has no BPA. The entire carton of Lite has 20 grams of fat, which spread over the whole soup, doesn’t seem to bad, but if that worries you, go easier on the coconut milk and replace some liquid with broth. As for the cashew cream, if fat is of concern, leave that out of the equation.
WEIRD PUMPKIN FACTS
- You can eat the skin!
- Pumpkin is a great DIY beauty ingredient.
- Apparently, a lot of people make their pumpkin pies with butternut squash. (But then isn’t it just squash pie?)
Do you like fall? What favorite fall things about it, if so?